Felix Rosenqvist will miss the second Detroit IndyCar race following his massive Saturday accident, with his Arrow McLaren SP predecessor Oliver Askew rejoining the team to stand in for him.
Rosenqvist crashed at Turn 6 in the first race of the Detroit event with a suspected stuck throttle.
He remained conscious following the heavy impact, with the series medics reporting he had “no loss of sensation anywhere” and “no loss of function”, then was taken to hospital and kept in overnight for evaluation.
I’m doing ok, except alot of soreness! Thanks for all the messages and to the @IndyCar medical staff for looking after me. What a race we had going til that point, bummer… Big congrats to @Ericsson_Marcus on his first W, happy for you bro 🤘🏻 https://t.co/ue9AxWpxCP
— Felix Rosenqvist (@FRosenqvist) June 13, 2021
“Following his crash during the race Felix Rosenqvist received an initial evaluation at the infield care center at Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix,” said Dr Geoffrey Billows, IndyCar medical director.
“He was then transferred to Detroit Receiving Hospital for advanced imaging and evaluation by the trauma and neurological services.
“Evaluation revealed no life or limb threatening injuries, he remains awake and alert, he will be observed overnight prior to discharge from the hospital.”
Arrow McLaren SP said the cause of the accident – which led to a red flag of over an hour while Rosenqvist was carefully extracted from his car and the tyre barrier and concrete wall behind then rebuilt – had been identified and measures taken to prevent a repeat.
“The team has undertaken a detailed examination and investigation into the cause,” said a statement.
“As a result, the team has eliminated driver error or any issues related to Chevrolet systems and software, including involving the throttle system.
“The sequence of events has been clearly established and the root cause identified as a singular, non-recurrent mechanical fault.
“The remedy has already been implemented and the team is confident that the issue is now fully resolved.”
Askew, 24, came into IndyCar last year off the back of winning the Indy Lights championship in the previous season but had an injury-disrupted season and was replaced by Rosenqvist at the end of it.
He had delivered some strong performances including fifth in his first road course qualifying in IndyCar – at Indianapolis – and scored a podium at Iowa before a heavy crash avoiding the spinning Conor Daly in the Indy 500 left Askew with an undiagnosed concussion. He raced on for four events.
He skipped the Indianapolis GP weekend in September after feeling his behaviour was unusual and that his performances on-track were not up to his own high-standards, and sought treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Before he returned to contest the 2020 St Petersburg finale, Arrow McLaren SP announced that Askew would not be retained for this year. He told The Race last November: “Don’t be surprised if my IndyCar career is over.”
Looking forward to working with the @ArrowMcLarenSP team again tomorrow for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. Wishing @FRosenqvist a full recovery. Ready to race and do my best for the team. pic.twitter.com/iAdyGqCRHA
— Oliver Askew (@Oliver_Askew) June 13, 2021
It is unclear if the deal will extend beyond Sunday’s race with further details on Rosenqvist’s condition yet to come, but IndyCar’s schedule allows little time for recuperation with the Road America round coming up next weekend.
Askew has been keeping in shape and has still been racing in IMSA’s LMP3 category – winning the class in the prestigious Daytona 24 Hours – while also helping his title winning team Andretti Autosport in Indy Lights.
The Race says
With every passing minute Askew’s rookie season has looked more and more impressive.
In a car his team-mate Patricio O’Ward has described as the hardest to drive in the IndyCar field recently, Askew was leading the rookie of the year battle ahead of Rinus VeeKay – now a race winner having stayed on at Ed Carpenter Racing for 2021.
While Rosenqvist’s had plenty of bad luck, he’s struggled to get on top of the car and is 168 points behind O’Ward after seven races, while Askew was 92 points behind at the same point – which included his crash in the double-points Indy 500. Perhaps that says more about O’Ward being a sensational talent than it does about Rosenqvist or Askew, but that’s another topic for a different day.
As an Indy Lights champion with just over $1million in scholarship money to back him up, Askew was a valuable proposition for 2020. But after his Indy 500 crash and subsequent downturn in performance, which can’t have been helped by racing with concussion, the team decided to go in a different direction.
The problem is, it all happened so late in the season that Askew – a driver without massive backing or sponsorship – didn’t have time to nail down a new deal in IndyCar and his chance went out of the window.
— Kyle M. Kirkwood (@KKirkwoodRacing) June 13, 2021
It’s not to say that Rosenqvist didn’t deserve the seat or that Askew was perfect in his 2020 performances, but the fact a driver as highly-decorated as Rosenqvist has struggled in this car proves Askew deserves another chance at IndyCar.
Getting that chance on a track he’s never raced on and without any practice before qualifying is hardly ideal.
But with a number of disappointing performances across big, funded seats in IndyCar this year, Askew really should be in the conversation to get a return for 2022.
He may decide that sportscars is the way forward for him as he can excel and earn a living there. It’s really IndyCar’s loss if an exemplary driver, who is a poster boy for the Road to Indy programme and then was booted out shortly after revealing he had a concussion, remains on the sidelines.